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panting leading to temporary front limb paresis
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panting leading to temporary front limb paresis

I have a 7yo chihuahua. He has a long history of digestive issues that have never been officially diagnosed. He is on a hypo-allergenic diet, which is the treatment that has helped the most/longest. In May, I took him to my dad's house. He was very excited as usual and went running through the house. He started panting...and never stopped. He was panting uncontrollably for about 45 minutes and then his front legs started to get rigid, with his front paws getting limp. I took him to the emergency vet. They assumed it was neurological due to the 'paw test' where they flip the paw under and stand him up...he didn't flip his paws back out. They gave him a large dose of steroids and kept him overnight. He started recovering within hours and was back to complete normal by morning. They were stumped. A week ago (about 2 months after first incident), my sister took him for a short walk. He didn't make it far before showing signs of fatigue. He started panting again. This time, it was on and off panting. His symptoms were the same but progressed slower. After about an hour and a half, I decided I could not cool him off/calm him down and took him again to the vet. His front limbs started going rigid/limp after about 1.5 hours. The vet gave him pain killers and steroids. He recovered overnight again. They took x-rays which did not show anything obvious. They suggest I see a neurologist. Could it be asthma? Panic attacks? They keep focusing on the paresis of the limbs, but that doesn't occur until after he can't breathe for an hour! If you couldn't breathe normally for an hour, you wouldn't be walking upright either. Please help!
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462827_tn?1333172552
Hello & welcome......I agree w/ your Vet....It's a Herniated Disc in his neck!  What your seeing is, as the herniation swells, it pushes on the spinal cord....It's excruciatingly Painfull!!!  Thus the panting, which is a symptom of pain.....Then the paralysis occurs because the spinal column is affected from the stray matter pushing on it....

Once the steroids/pain meds are administered, the swelling goes down and panting stops, as does the pain.....It's known as IVDD (Intervertabral Disc/Disk Disease) & very common in a middle age Chi.....Once the swelling goes down (From the steroids), the limbs behave normally because there is no pressure on the spine.....That is, Until is happens again!

Xrays DO NOT normally show a disc problem....A Cat Scan or MRI is needed, but very expensive.....A Neuro will recognize the symptoms....

Conservative treatment would include NO Jumping off or on any furniture.....Pet steps on all beds, sofa, etc., are a must...Ramps can be put on stairs going outside.....Pain meds & steroids are given as each episode occurs...Cage rest for a few weeks each time is important as to let the herniation go back down.....If it ruptures, your dog will be paralysed & emergency surgery is needed.....The good news is that neck herniations rarely rupture, but a back disc rupture is common......

Joint supplements are a good line of defense to begin treatment.....

Surgery can be performed to correct the problem at any time......It runs around $2,500 depending on where you live.....Recovery time is 6-8 wks. & then they are good to go......
If you live around Oklahoma, I can tell you where to go & where NOT to go.....

If this last episode just recently happened.....Cage rest for a few weeks will help him, alot.....Let me know if you have any questions.....Good luck to you both..... Karla

Than after that: Let's talk about his tummy troubles....    ;)

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441382_tn?1329196690
I, too, completely agree with the herniated disc theory.  The symptoms are classic.

I don't know that I would opt for surgery right away.  I think I would be fairly conservative in the beginning, starting with a LOT of cage rest and only supervised outings so that you can make sure he doesn't do anything to aggravate the condition.  If you can keep him quiet long enough, sometimes the disc material will rearrange itself so that it won't press on anything, but if he continues to have these episodes, the only logical way out is to have the surgery so that he's not constantly going the cage rest/steroids/painkillers route.  Dogs are not nearly as tolerant of steroids as cats are and can develop other problems if they are exposed to frequent large doses of steroids such as the dose needed to effect a (temporary) solution to this problem.  You don't want to opt out of surgery and have him end up with Cushings Disease or diabetes because of the steroids.

Please keep us posted as to his progress!

Ghilly
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Avatar_n_tn
(sigh) I guess it's more serious than I hoped for:( Unfortunately, MRI and/or surgery is not a financial option at this time. I just had unexpected surgery myself and am just starting to get the bills for that. I can, however, keep him pretty quiet and still...he loves to cuddle:) I appreciate your fast responses and thorough explanations of why the limbs gradually go limp and then get better. I need to understand things before I believe them, ya know? It's got to make sense, or I don't buy it:) Karla, I live in Wisconsin. They've quoted me an estimate of $3500 to $4000 for imaging and surgery...$1500 for just imaging, so that sounds pretty in-line with your area. I thought about doing a little fund-raiser amongst my friends. This little guy means the world to me. He's too young to be in that much pain. Thank you both again. I'll keep you posted.

Rachel
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462827_tn?1333172552
OK, On to Plan B....

While you save your money, here are some options: Acupuncture would help him tremendously! Yes, I'm serious!  
To locate a Holistic Vet in your area, go to the AHVMA (American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association) websight....You can do a search by state on their homepage.....Listings will come up to all Holistic Vets close to you.....You WANT one that is LISCENSED in Acupuncture...One that is also liscensed in Chinese Herbal Medicines would be an added benefit...

Another thing: Look up "Care Credit" online.....It's a credit card specifically made for Human & Animal Medical Care....Most surgical centers & alot of Vet Clinics accept it as a form of payment....The interest rate is very low.....You can apply online....It's used just as any credit card.....You pay for the surgery w/it & then make monthly payments back to the card company...It wouldn't hurt to look into it...

Next: Do you have any Veterinary Teaching Hospital near you? As in a College University that teaches Veterinary Medicine....There are 27 in the US.....If one is close to you, you can get this surgery done for almost 1/2 the price, compared to speciality clinics....

Anyway, give this all some thought...It will at least provide you with some other options when needed....Good luck & keep us updated on your little guy....Karla
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441382_tn?1329196690
I hope things are going a bit better for your little Chihuahua.  It's so difficult to watch our babies being sick, especially when it's something serious.  

Here is a list that you may find helpful.  On this page are links that will take you to sites where you may be able to find financial assistance for your dog's surgery.  There used to be only one such group, but more and more people and vets have been joining forces in recent years to provide help to people whose pets need expensive surgeries or medical treatments who just cannot afford them.  I hope beyond hope that one of these groups can help you.  Please keep us informed.    

http://www.animalfriendsrescue.org/financialassistance.html

Ghilly
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Avatar_n_tn
Your kindness has brought tears to my eyes. I'm so grateful for your tips and advice. I will look into ALL of those things! I have a friend who takes her dog (for similar reasons) to a holistic vet. I will look into his credentials first, but he has done wonders for her little guy. I'm so hopeful for the future now:) Thank you so much. I will keep you posted. If this all works out, I will forever be indebted to you.
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Avatar_n_tn
Sorry it's been so long since I've updated this, but it turns out Rico is having atypical seizures. Possible physical causes of these have been ruled out. I am in the process of trying the first anti-convulsant medication in hopes of decreasing frequency and duration of the seizures. I am working with a local neurologist. My poor baby:(
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462827_tn?1333172552
Hello & welcome again......So glad you got a diagnoses of Rico......Sorry, I was leaning so towards a disc problem.....I obviously was wrong!  Seizures would fit!

Now, I have a few questions for you to think about......

In your original post, you state he is on a Hypo-Allergenic food.....Did these seizures start AFTER you started feeding this particular food? Hopefully, this is NOT a prescription diet that your Vet sold you, but a high quality one from a specialty pet store!

Have you thought about chemicals that you may give regularly that could be the cause? The reason I ask is I have a fried that's little Chi (About the same age) started having seizures.....The cause was finally narrowed down to the heartworm medication he was on.....Once he was traded to a different brand (Different chemical), the seizures stopped......

Flea & tick products (Including shampoos) can also be your culprit.....

Chemical preservatives, dangerous ingredients & dyes in low quality pet food can cause them......That would include prescription foods from your Vet!

Any chemical going into or on your dog could be the source.....That would also include FOOD....In your free time, you need to look into a fresh food diet for your pet & do research on how toxic most commercial brands of food really are......

Anyway, just wanted to give you some ideas to think about......I do hope the new medication works out for him, but I wouldn't stop there......

Thanks for returning...Please, keep us updated and come back if you have any questions.........Karla
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Avatar_n_tn
Let me offer a little more explanation. As Rico continued to have these episodes, I noticed more and more things about them that I had missed the first few times. Prior to him beginning to pant, I can see his muscles 'jumping' uncontrollably. At this point, he is still aware, moving around, etc. The muscle jumping starts in his shoulder area. Eventually, it spreads to his thighs and eyelids (and I'm assuming everywhere else, but those are the most noticeable). The muscle jumping last the whole episode, while the panting and limb paresis gradually come on and then gradually subside. Most concerning, his most recent episode had evident muscle jumping for over nine hours straight. The panting and limb paresis lasted longer than 'normal' also.

Once a neurologist determined this was seizure activity (I took a video and sent it in) and not due to any physical cause that could be operated on, we tried suppository Valium to shorten the seizure. That did not work, so I took him to the vet. They administered intravenous Valium...no effect....and intravenous Phenobarbital...no effect. We have started him on oral Phenobarbital to see if that decreases frequency and/or duration, but he's having side effects from the medication. He's only been on it a few days, and from what I understand from my research, those side effects are most prominent in the first few weeks. He's having hind leg weakness or ataxia and is consequentially tipping over and falling off of things like the couch. He is also sometimes bumping into things by not understanding where he is in his environment...same with falling off the couch. He doesn't seem to be aware he is at the edge of the couch like he used to be. Also, and this may sound weird, his kisses are sloppier! He always used to give me gentle, careful kisses right on the end of my nose. Now he doesn't seem to know how close he is to me or where on my face his tongue is going to end up when he sticks it out!

I love your idea for changing his food. I didn't know that was possible! No one told me there were hypoallergenic foods on the market that I could buy without going through a vet. I thought the vet food was quality (given the price!) and my only choice! Since reading your response, I did some research and found some choices I'm interested in trying. I'll have to order them online because there are no specialty pet stores around here that I know of. I'll check into that. I've already emailed my neurologist inquiring about stopping the Pheno for a while to see if the diet change will make a difference. If I start both things at once, how will I know which one helps? I'd rather not have him on meds if he doesn't need to be. He has been on the prescription diet for many years and only just started having seizures a year ago, but that doesn't mean it's not the cause, right?

As far as other chemicals, he really doesn't get exposed to any. He is not on heartworm medication nor flea/tick prevention/treatment. The treats I give him are all natural.

I am again hopeful from the feedback you have provided. These seizures have taken quite a toll on Rico and me and our life together. I am scared all the time. Excitement seems to trigger them...playing, walks, having guests over...so our quality of life has significantly deteriorated. I love cuddling with the guy, but I can't do it all the time!!

I will keep you posted. Thanks again, Karla. I'm very appreciative of your suggestions.

-Rachel
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Avatar_n_tn
I forgot to mention one of the other clues that led them to the seizure diagnosis. During one episode, we decided to travel from one vet to another because the other had an MRI machine AND a surgeon on site where the first one only had the MRI. With all the drive time and wait time talking to vets, eventually Rico started coming out of the episode right in front of our eyes! With no treatment! That was their first clue that it was not a disc problem. He gradually stopped panting, shaking, and regained control of his legs as we were sitting there talking.
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462827_tn?1333172552
Your Vet nor your Neuro will  understand the food issue...Neither of them have any nutritional background....If you searched out a canine nutritionist, he/she would gasp at the ingredients in the food your Vet sold you.....Read the ingredients, it's nothing but chicken feed with absolutely NO nutrition that a dog needs...It's a joke & your Vet made a kick back by selling you that crap!

Here's a place to start: I'm not sure which food you feed, but I do know what brand it is......PLEASE, go here: DogfoodAdvisor.com...Look up your food AND the food you fed before this......Read, read, read......This info. can save your dog's life! I'm not kidding......

Other resources to do the same thing:

Dogfoodscoop.com (My next favorite)
DogfoodAnalysis.com
411-for-dogs.com
DogfoodChat.com
PetfoodRatings.net

Something else.......Did these seizures start anywhere (Even months) after vaccines? Your dog is legally exempt from all vaccines due to the seizure dis-order.....DO NOT fall into the trap of your doctor vaccinating Rico ever again...Just say NO! Its possible that any over vaccinating is what caused this.......If the vaccines are the trigger, the next time it could kill him!

I have two places that I want you to check out and request samples of their food.......All you have to do is email them and request samples...They will send them.......

Sojourner Farms (Real Food for Pets) www.sojos.com
Ziwi Peak at www.ziwipeak.com

Both of these foods are amazing & affordable for small pets......Please read all information at each web sight.....The reason I selected these two is that your tiny dog eats tiny amounts...Thus, every bite must be nutritious......He is depending on that.....After you look at these foods, compare the ingredients list to the list on back of the bag your Vet sold you......Are you disgusted yet?

Gotta run for now........Karla

P.S. The sloppy kisses from your guy: If your seeing unusual slobbering, foaming, froth, etc. from his mouth, the ataxia, falling down, disorientation & everything else you describe means his medication dose is too high & he's having a reaction or being poisoned......These are classic symptoms of toxic reactions to medications and I'm worried about him.....Just a heads up.......Bye for now


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462827_tn?1333172552
Me again...There is a new tread (Today) on this forum.....It is titled: "Consumer Reports on Purina Dog & Cat Foods".......I will keep it bumped to the top of the first page so you can find it easier.....Please read it.....It will give you an idea of what goes on in the pet food industry and the repercussions of inferior pet foods.....Seizure disorders are common complaints.....Trust me, the reports are heart breaking, but you need to know......This happens all the time...Mainly to inferior foods purchased at Discount centers & grocery stores......This is an eye opener for those that are unaware.....Thanks, Karla
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Hi Karla,
I'm back...with good news this time! It has now been over 12 weeks since Rico last had a seizure. The day after our last 'conversation,' I changed his food to Origen (I think that's how you spell it) 6-fish dog food. Since then, he has not had any seizure activity, has not had bowel problems (from his allergies), and has been more active and 'happier' in my opinion:) I can't be 100% confident we are in the clear, but this is the longest he's gone without a seizure since they started a year ago. I could not be happier! It is such a relief to be able to play with him again and not be so scared we'll end up in the hospital! I discontinued the phenobarbital the day I changed his food, against the advice of the neurologist of course. I'm so glad I did that. I followed your advice and did some research. I found that his old prescription food had at least one chemical in it known to cause seizures (BHA). As soon as I found that, I didn't feed him one more bite. I drove over an hour to a specialty food store and bought new food. I owe this all to you. I would not have done that research if it wasn't for your advice. I would not have had the confidence to stand up to the vet and go against her advice had I not done that research...and now I'm passing on the same priceless things I've learned to my family and friends. My brother has started feeding their dog the same all-natural, hypoallergenic food! I seriously can't thank you enough. Rico thanks you too!!! I am forever grateful to you.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
-Rachel and Rico
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462827_tn?1333172552
Well, I'm dancing in my chair as we speak!  Hello to you, too.....

The dreaded BHA makes another appearance!  The three worst chemicals used in Petfood are BHA, BHT, & Ethoxyquin.....BHA & BHT are used as preservatives to make a product last longer....They are known to cause cancer, Seizures, Kidney & organ failure, yet are still used in inferior petfoods.....These have been banned for Human consumption.....

Ethoxyquin was originally developed to use in the Rubber making industry....It's a know Herbicide AND Pesticide and causes Cancer! Again, still used in Low quality Pet foods.......

So, tell me...Why are they in Prescription diets sold by Vets? Makes you wonder doesn't it? Most of the cheap grocery store & discount center dog food brands also will have these in their ingredients...Sad, but true!

You have no idea how happy I am for you and your Rico.....Another guy saved from Toxic Pet food!!!!  You know, if you were feeding a grocery store brand BEFORE the digestion issues began, it's possible that Rico doesn't have allergies at all....Just a reaction to his first food before the Prescription Diet......If it was diarrhea, loose stools and such, it's more than likely that the cheap fillers in his previous food (that dogs have no need for and cannot digest properly) that caused it.....That would be corn, wheat, soy or un-named animal fats used in grocery store brands.....

I'm sorry that Orijen doesn't make a wet food.....They need to....I was going to suggest that you feed him a moist diet at least once a day......This can be fresh meats (Cooked or Raw), fresh cooked or raw veggies (Mashed up),  cooked sweet potatoes, carrots, apples bananas, etc... Healthy left overs from your own table are fine...NO onions, fried, spicy seasoned foods, though!  My dogs love watermelon & cantaloupe & apples.....All are very full of moisture....Any of these items can be added to his bowl along with his dry food....
The reason I mention this is that dogs that only eat dry food live their life in mild dehydration.....Without water, organs give up & start to fail....The main two are the Liver & Kidneys.....Without enough liquid, these organs cannot filter TOXINS & CHEMICALS appropriately, thus you end up with illness & eventually organ failure.......Dogs need MOISTURE in their diets.....More than just drinking water...

That reminds me: Since Rico is sensitive to chemicals, you need to think about providing him with bottled water instead of tap...Tap water is ladened with chemicals that have to be filtered through your dog's system....Just a thought!

OK, I think I got carried away! Thank you Soooo much for returning with the good news...I've been wondering about him & you!  I'm delighted with your report......Your Vets made a lot of money from you without even considering Rico's food being the problem, didn't they?  ;(

Make sure you evaluate his treats, too...Do a search to be on the safe side!

Keep me updated on his progress.....I feel blessed to have been able to help him! ....Happy "TAILS" to you!  Take care, Karla  
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